Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Laud Misc. 413 (970) Reginald of Durham, "Vita et Miracula Sancti Godrici"

Main Article Content

Rolf H. Bremmer
Kees Dekker


397. Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Laud Misc. 413 (970)

Reginald of Durham, "Vita et Miracula Sancti Godrici"

[Ker 342, Gneuss -]

HISTORY: "The Life and Miracles of Saint Godric" (ca. 1070-1170), the founder of Finchale, by Reginald of Durham or Coldingham (fl. 1170), in a manuscript dating from the second half of the 12c (Ker, Cat., 419). Prior Thomas of Durham ( ca. 1158-1163) and the monk Ailrred of Rievaulx ( d. 1166) commissioned the hagiographer Reginald to record the life of Saint Godric, a holy man who had settled down as a visionary at Finchale after a life of traveling. For the purpose of recording his life Reginald visited the saint himself. The text in this manuscript is the third, and fullest, recension, the first being found in British Library MS Harley 322 and the second in Harley 153, according to its editor, Stevenson (1847: ix-xi, xv-xi). Although Godric was reportedly almost illiterate (Tudor 2004), he composed three English hymns, one to the Virgin Mary, one to Christ and Mary, and one to St. Nicholas. The first two of these are recorded in MS Laud Misc. 413, and in British Library MSS Harley 153 and Royal 5 F viii; the first Godric hymn occurs in Cambridge University Library Mm. 4.28 [108) (Ker, Catalogue, 28); all three also occur in a French manuscript: Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale MS Mazarine 1716 (Barratt 1985: 440). These lyrics are among the earliest ME lyrics to have been preserved. The text is very lightly glossed in Latin, and there is an OE gloss on f. 52r which warrants the inclusion of this manuscript in the series. An erased ex-libris of Durham Cathedral from the 14c on f. lr of the manuscript shows that it was there at the time (Ker, Cat., p. 419; Coxe/Hunt 1885/1973: 561). In the 17c it belonged to Anthony Maxton, prebendary at Durham from 1633 to 1641, who gave it to the Essex-born churchman and Durham prebendary Augustine Lindsell, bishop of Peterborough and, later, of Hereford (d. 1634). Lindsell firmly supported the policies of Archbishop Laud, to whom he also dedicated his edition of Theophylact's commentaries on St. Paul's Epistles. It is not unlikely, therefore, that he gave the book to Laud, to whom it belonged in 1633. Laud in turn donated it to the Bodleian Library in 1635. There is an old shelfmark 'E.47' on f. i verso. In its medieval binding, the manuscript containing the "Vita" is preceded and followed by quires from a 13c manuscript containing, according to the Laudian Catalogue (Coxe/Hunt 1885/1973: 303), glosses on the Latin translation of De urinis by the 7c Byzantine scholar Theophilus Protospatharius. This theoretical exposition on uroscopy became popular in Western Europe in the 12c and was the basis of several commentaries (Wallis 2000).

Article Details

Manuscript Descriptions